At Shoals Creek Country Music Park in Lavonia, Georgia, we worked Saturday and Sunday, July 31st and August 1st.
Saturday afternoon there was a bad thunderstorm that stopped the afternoon shows. After the storm, everyone experienced the red Georgia clay. It stuck to your shoes like chewing gum.
The Saturday night show was an interesting one. Joe Stuart and I were sitting in the front of the bus when Bill came in. I immediately got up and moved over to make room for him, and as he sat down, he asked if I would mind if “That Corum boy” (Pete Corum) played bass tonight....At first, I didn’t know how to take what he was asking, but I said, "Sure." Bill continued that Pete had helped parking cars at Bean Blossom for several days in all the rain and hot weather and wouldn’t take a cent for it.....All he wanted to do was play bass on one show....That was fine with me. So, I was sitting up front in the bus while they were all in the back getting dressed.
In a few minutes Bill came out first....He looked over at me and said, “Aren’t you going to get ready?” I said, "I thought you said Pete was going to play bass tonight." Bill said, “Well, you and Jack can play twin banjos can’t you?” I said, "Well, I guess so," so I got dressed.
It began as a typical Bill Monroe show. Jack and I were swapping back and forth with banjo breaks. Three or four tunes into the set, Jack winked at me as he went in for a break. He promptly broke a string. I moved in and finished the break, and as he went by me, he said, “You take care of things out here.” Jack didn’t come back. It was Jack’s way of letting me play banjo. In a talented group like this, it would have been easy for egos to flourish, but this was a great bunch of guys -- no egos and everyone was always good to each other. Jack knew I loved to play the banjo. It was the same way in Montreal later in the summer, when Jack missed a show and Joe Stuart could have played banjo. But Joe said, "You go ahead and do it," knowing what it would mean to me. These guys were wonderful to work with. I can’t remember a cross word spoken between anyone in the band the whole time I was there.
Bill started inviting people to come out and play a tune on his show: Mac Wiseman, Red Rector, the Country Gentlemen, Rual Yarbrough and Jake Landers. Everyone who was on the show that day, I think, came out and did a tune or two with him.
A night to remember for sure.....